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The Mountaineering Council for Scotland (MCofS) has sent a strong response to the Cairngorm National Park Authority’s (CNPA) draft National Park Plan for 2012-2017 .

The purpose of the National Park Plan is to set the direction and framework for all those involved in contributing to the management and success of the areas. The plan sets targets and outcomes for a period of 5 years. They are widely consulted upon with public agencies, organisations and members of the public.

The Draft Plan builds on the current National Park Plan 2007-2012 that was approved by Scottish Ministers in 2007. It sets out a long-term vision and objectives for what the CNPA considers necessary in order to deliver the four aims of the National Park. Following consultation on the Draft Plan, the CNPA will make changes to it, before submitting a final Cairngorms National Park Plan 2012-2017 to the Scottish Ministers for approval in 2012.

In the response, the MCofS confirmed our support for the principles under which National Parks in Scotland were established, emphasising that wildness is central to the character of the Park.

The MCofS made it clear that it is urgent to address the threat of a reduced sense of wildness as a result of the visual impact of development. In particular there is an emerging encirclement of the Park by wind farms. Many are highly visible from core upland areas within the Park, and are having a significant impact on the wild quality. The MCofS made it clear that no loss of wildness should be an absolute minimum, but that maintaining what is there is insufficient in the long-term. The goal in the future should be to enhance the wildness.

The MCofS recognised that erosion could be exacerbated both by human activity and also by extreme weather. For this reason, the MCofS welcomed the excellent mountain heritage project currently being delivered by the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust (COAT) to address erosion. This threat is likely to have the greatest impact where there is intense human activity on vulnerable thin soils found on the plateau, as is the case around the Cairngorm summit and the corrie rims to the west. To support conservation of this vulnerable area, the MCofS reiterated our agreement with the continuation of the ‘closed system’ at Cairngorm Mountain as an important mechanism to manage pressure on the plateau in the vicinity of the easy access afforded by the high altitude car park and funicular.

The MCofS made a commitment to continue to work closely with the CNPA to help ensure that this magnificent area is properly managed and conserved for future generations to enjoy.